Sir Richard Abberbury of Donnington and his son, also Sir Richard, play a minor but instructive part in the history of Richard II's reign. Sir Richard le filz became a well-established figure in English political life by the 1390s, known as an acute diplomat and a trusted servant of the duke of Lancaster. Sir Richard le filz did not turn the high position he had held in John of Gaunt's esteem to greater advantage after 1399, especially in view of the importance of old Lancastrian servants in Henry IV's establishment. Within twelve months of old Sir Richard's death, Richard II was deposed and dead; John of Gaunt was dead; his son, Henry of Derby, was King of England. The Abberburys' decline has less to do with 'unskillfulness' than with the scale of priorities by which the later medieval gentry conducted their lives.
Between 1389 and 1413, the powers and composition of the commissions of the peace underwent a series of changes. This chapter examines the strength of these reservations against the evidence available for the membership and activity of the commissions of the peace in the three Ridings of Yorkshire during the majority rule of Richard II and the reign of Henry IV. It discusses the personnel of each of these categories and defines the part each played in the work of the Yorkshire justices of the peace. Among the general observations, the first concerns the respective attitudes of the rulers towards the self-regarding local sentiment embodied in the parliamentary Commons' aspirations to control the county bench. A second general observation concerns the opposition between central government and local autonomy, royal authority and gentry independence.
This chapter describes some events that are well attested in the reign of Henry IV. The king's suppression of the Yorkshire risings and his successful reassertion of royal authority on the northern march are proved to be vital turning points that allowed a crisis-ridden regime to assume some appearance of permanence. A movement of protest at the disorder prevalent in the region, led by the archbishop, which sought to articulate the grievances of the citizens and clergy of York in politically acceptable terms. The chapter looks at the narrative sources for the risings and shows that an informed reading, which pays due attention to their rhetorical structure and polemical purpose, can support such an interpretation of events. It also examines how political defiance, one that united significant elements of the shire's nobility, gentry, clergy and townsmen into a single movement, became both possible and justified.